February 7, 2006

GIS-Augmented Environmental Health Research  

F. Benjamin Zhan

Professor and Director

Texas Center for Geographic Information Science

Department of Geography, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX 78666

Email: zhan@txstate.edu

This presentation demonstrates how GIS and spatial analysis methods can be used to support environmental health research.  I will first provide an overview about environment change and its effects on human health and justify why GIS and spatial analysis methods can be used to significantly improve environmental health research.  As a case study, I will then describe how GIS was used to support a multi-year research project examining the relationship between residential proximity to environmental hazardous sites and congenital malformations in offspring using data from the state of Texas.  The development of GIS used in this project included: (1) geocoding of addresses, (2) construction of geodatabases, and (3) the design and implementation of a GIS-based spatial search tool for environmental exposure assessment.  In addition, I will also share with you some of the preliminary results of the Texas project mentioned above.  

Keywords: GIS; Epidemiology; Environmental Health; Environmental Hazards; Birth Defects


February 21, 2006

Remote Sensing at UTSA

Hongjie Xie

Assistant Professor

Department of Earth and Environmental Science

University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas 78249


The Laboratory for Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics (LRSG), established in fall 2004, has state-of-the-art field instruments and 30 computers and 8 high performance workstations equipped with core remote sensing and GIS software. This talk will first introduce LRSG and its software, hardware, students, staff members, and its capability of research and various research interests from local and regional scale, foreign countries, Antarctic, to Mars. Following this, I will introduce some research projects that are currently going on in the lab as well as some preliminary research results. In particular, I will focus on remote sensing in vegetation and hydrology related research results as well as remote sensing in Antarctic and Martian research.


March 7, 2006


3-D Geospatial applications in geology and hydrology


Kyle Murray

Assistant Professor

Department of Earth and Environmental Science

University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas 78249



In this presentation I will illustrate how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are being used in two projects.  (1) Modeling subsurface geology for a karst region in northern Arkansas.  In this region, the Buffalo River may be susceptible to contamination from springs discharging groundwater that originated as infiltration in agricultural regions.  Geologic data for the region are being compiled in a GIS and combined with digital terrain data to prepare a 3-D volumetric model of the subsurface stratigraphy and structural features that control groundwater movement.  (2) Modeling zones of hydraulic capture for groundwater production wells.  In this project I am implementing a set of analytical solutions to well hydraulics equations in the Denver Basin Aquifer System.  The resulting zones of hydraulic capture and particle flowpaths are visualized in 3-D using GIS.



March 21, 2006

Integrating Remote Sensing and GIS for Applied Research

Teresa Howard

Research Associate

Center for Space Research

University of Texas at Austin

Austin, Texas 78759



The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research (CSR) has pursued research in orbit determination, space geodesy, remote sensing of the Earth and its environment, and exploration of the solar system for a quarter of a century. Since 2000, CSR has expanded its focus to include the development of remote sensing and GIS applications to support decision makers, particularly in state government. The talk will present the integration of GIS and remote sensing applications for invasive species mapping, air quality modeling, and water resource characterization. The speaker will also introduce online sources of geospatial information available from CSR and TexasView. Practical considerations about data procurement, field data collection, project documentation and metadata, and interaction with project collaborators and clients will be included in the presentation.



April 4, 2006

Employment of Geoscientists, Environmental Scientists, and Environmental Engineers

John L. Russell

Director of the Washington Technical Support Office of the Center for Nuclear Waste

Regulatory Analyses (CNWRA) and Assistant to the President of CNWRA

Geosciences and Engineering Division

Southwest Research Institute

12300 Twinbrook Parkway

Rockville, MD 208852-1606


Major employers of geoscientists and environmental scientists and engineers, engage in diverse activities ranging from mineral, water, and energy exploration and extraction to assessment of geologic hazards and environmental impacts. These firms actively recruit, from the breadth of geoscience and environmental disciplines, technically qualified individuals with the ability to make pragmatic decisions in the context of multidisciplinary teams that commonly include, and must communicate with, non-scientists. Moreover, they expect applicants to communicate effectively verbally and in writing, as well as demonstrate skills and experience in integrating field investigations, conducting laboratory studies, and accomplishing computer modeling. These applicants should be capable of simultaneously working in multiple rapidly evolving projects. Successful recruiting and employment requires interactions between the job applicant and potential employer conducted with honesty and integrity. Resumes and associated transmittal letters should be directed to specific employers based on the applicant’s review of information on the firm from the Internet and other sources. "Shotgun" or blanket approaches are seldom productive.



April 19, 2006


Mummified microbes: an experimental approach to understanding fossilization of bacteria on Mars.


Stuart Birnbaum

Associate Professor of Geology

University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas 78249



Since the announcement by NASA of possible fossil bacteria in a Martian meteorite, there has been a great deal of interest in astrobiology.  We know that Mars hosted water bodies early in its history.  Did these oceans support life?  If so, what is the possibility that fossils have been preserved?  Are there possible analogs on Earth?


Thermodynamic analyses suggest the early Martian oceans were alkaline containing high concentrations of sodium carbonate.  The Eocene Green River Formation in Wyoming, USA, hosts sodium carbonate minerals.  Within some of these minerals are entombed, fossilized bacteria.  Laboratory experiments suggest that bacteria can, indeed, be preserved in the rock record during evaporation and precipitation of sodium carbonate minerals.  These data have implications for future sample return missions to Mars.



May 2, 2006

Hyperspectral remote sensing on Mars


Minqiang Zhu

Professor and Director of

Research Center for GIS & RS

East China Institute of Technology

Fuzhou, Jiangxi 344000, China


Visiting professor

Department of Earth and Environmental Science

University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas 78249




This presentation will introduce:

A. Some new understanding of Martian exploration, which includes evidence of water processing, layered sediments, rock alteration observed by Mars Orbiter Camera on Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Mars Exploration Rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity”.

B. Hyperspectral remote sensing on Mars, which includes hyperspectral sensors, information retrieving methods and new findings by TES and OMEGA.

C. OMEGA data pre-processing, that includes data acquisition, data reduction and atmospheric correction using Empirical Transmission Function.

    D. Mineral and lithologic unit mapping using OMEGA data. OMEGA data can be used not only to map individual minerals, but also their corresponding lithologic units.  A minimum noise fraction (MNF) method was used to derive the lithologic endmember units.  Three spectral matching methods (SAM, SFF, BE) were used to match minerals and lithologies, and three areas were tested for mapping mineral and lithologic units.